pa·​nache | \ pə-ˈnash How to pronounce panache (audio) , -ˈnäsh How to pronounce panache (audio) \

Definition of panache

1 : an ornamental tuft (as of feathers) especially on a helmet The palace guard had a panache on his helmet.
2 : dash or flamboyance in style and action : verve flashed his … smile and waved with the panache of a big-city mayor— Joe Morgenstern

Illustration of panache

Illustration of panache

panache 1

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Few literary characters can match the panache of French poet and soldier Cyrano de Bergerac, from Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play of the same name. In his dying moments, Cyrano declares that the one thing left to him is his panache, and that assertion at once demonstrates the meaning of the word and draws upon its history. In both French and English, panache (which traces back to Late Latin pinnaculum, “small wing”) originally referred to a showy, feathery plume on a hat or helmet; our familiar figurative sense debuted in the first English translation of Rostand’s play, which made the literal plume a metaphor for Cyrano’s unflagging verve even in death. In a 1903 speech Rostand himself described panache: “A little frivolous perhaps, most certainly a little theatrical, panache is nothing but a grace which is so difficult to retain in the face of death, a grace which demands so much strength that, all the same, it is a grace … which I wish for all of us.”

Examples of panache in a Sentence

She played the role of hostess with great panache.
Recent Examples on the Web But Bryan Ferry’s combo has always stood outside of time in its panache, and the band’s 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction seemed to stir the old blood. Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2022 The pair met in 2018 at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim, Calif., and have been making music ever since, dropping jaws with their instrumental panache and intuitive mastery of groove and dynamics. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 30 Aug. 2022 For more than a decade, those blue and red jerseys represented style and panache and adventure and excellence. New York Times, 17 Sep. 2021 Despite the outdoor acoustics, the sound was remarkably rich in the first movement; the second was eloquent; the third buoyant but still substantial, carried off with understated panache. New York Times, 19 Aug. 2022 Themes are stated with ritualistic panache, like when a cunning billionaire in a bathrobe talks up Thomas Hobbes. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 16 Aug. 2022 The route is twisty and Umugenga swings around the hairpin bends with panache, shifting in his seat with each gear change, while twangy inanga music plays on the radio. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2022 Hals has captured Gijsbert’s warm eyes and boxer’s nose with terrific panache. Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 Screenwriter Patrick Aison can be forgiven for laying on the feminist themes a bit thickly, since for every earnest or overly self-aware moment there’s one or more scenes of the Predator slaying his victims with undeniable panache. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'panache.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of panache

1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for panache

Middle French pennache, from Old Italian pennacchio, from Late Latin pinnaculum small wing — more at pinnacle

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The first known use of panache was in 1553

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Last Updated

20 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Panache.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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